Bendmaster BIG block

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Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Steve777 on Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:17 pm

Some time during the early 80's I had a thru neck custom electric made for me by Rob Armstrong of Coventry. While we were developing the design, we decided to insert a brass block just below the bridge and tail piece and mount those components through the mahogany top and into the block. Needless to say, the sustain was and still is impressive. If memory serves me correctly, Rob used an oscilloscope and bench tested the sustain at nearly a minute.

From then on, I have always been wary of flimsy contact and securing points along a strings length.

Now, fast forward to recent posts. One talked about the importance of the neck pocket and the securing bolts / screws. Another which intrigued me, was someone who had a stripped securing hole on a bendmaster deluxe sustain block. I think both John and I came up with some suggestions including making a new one out of brass.

Having noticed that aftermarket big sustain blocks made in brass are the fashion now for Floyds and Fenders, I decided to see if I could design one for the BM Deluxe fitted as OEM equipment to my Genesis II. Following some of the reviews of these Floyd blocks, I could reasonably expect an increase in sustain and increase in the mid tonal range over the pot metal sustain block. Plus, these brass blocks are selling anywhere from £25 to £50 here in the UK. So costing had to appreciated.

After taking all the measurements I needed with the BM in situ, I decided that I could safely increase the thickness of the block from 7mm to 13mm (I/2 inch). I then , after some searching, found a small, brass and metal stockist in Birmingham who sold me 4 rough cut blocks for £16. I say rough cut but actually they were pretty well spot on and only needed a modicum of fettling with a fine file and a square.

I had determined that the new block could be safely moved back towards the neck by 1mm thus meaning the six string grooves could be shallower taking into account thickness of the block. After scribing out and centre punching the location of each of the three securing holes, I drilled three holes 3.3mm diameter and 25mm deep to account for the point on the end of the tap. You'll notice that the original screws are short at 8mm and I felt that a longer screw would give a better purchase. I used 20mm stainless steel countersunk socket head screws primarily because I could then use the the wrench on the back of neck. Less tools to worry about.

All went well on Block number 1 until the 4mm tap snapped in the last hole !! Bugger ! Start again ...

This time I bought a HSS tap instead of one made from carbon steel and it went through the brass like butter. I then turned my attention to the BM plate, flipped it over and ran a straight edge across the three holes that would mate with the block. Because the BM plate was pressed out, each of the holes had deformed and created slight domes, therefore, there had never been solid contact between the OEM block and the plate. I would imagine that all our guitars are like this. Rather than file the chrome away, I simply countersunk the three hole in the brass block to give the optimum contact with the BM plate when screwed up.

I then assembled the block onto the BM and scribed out the string grooves from the top using the BM as a template. I then took it apart and using the scrap block and the new block made a sandwich and put them in the pillar drill vice. After some careful lining up, I drilled exactly in between each block thus leaving me with six semi circular grooves. Job done

All that was left to do was mark out and drill the five spring holes on the bottom, polish the block off using fine wet and dry, and re-assemble it all back into the Genesis. Perfect fit. Looking at it now, with the trem arm fully depressed, I could of put a thicker block in there, possibly up to 20mm.

And how does it sound? Well the sustain has definitely gone up and the mids seem (to my ears) a little more pronounced. Its subtle but I haven't had chance as yet to crank up the amp to a suitable volume. I suspect because of other factors on the Genesis, ie Alnico V pickups and a tone circuit with inductors to warm the sound, that the results aren't so staggering on this guitar. Alnico's are warmer than Ceramics. However, on a Spectrum with MMK 45 ceramic Pups which can be described as hard / harsh in comparison to Alnico's, I could quite imagine that the mids would then be more pronounced.

And finally, the good thing about this exercise is that everything is reversible. Oh ..one further measurement, on my post offices digital scales, the pot metal block, inc screws, came in at 128 grams whilst the brass block came in at 272 grams inc screws. Mass = Sustain.

All the Best, Steve

And here are the results >

[IMG]http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff498/Stevesj777/imgp0822.jpg[/IMG




















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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Barry on Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:04 pm

WOW!
FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC Steve!! cheers
I wish I had your skill and shop tools to mess about like this.
Just a great job....are you taking orders?? lol!

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by DuoFuzz on Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:34 pm

Awesome work there Steve. I've made some steel blocks for my old Squier Strats back when I had a job working in a toolroom machine shop of a local diecasting factory. I would love to do some more stuff like that, but I don't have access to gear like that now! Sad

DAN.

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Westbone on Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:14 pm

That's a neat job. Just out of interest. What would it sound like if the strings were anchoured in the block, as per a strat. Just a thought. As I noticed a marked differance fitting a "big" block in my strat. Not brass though.
Top job man.

Just realized the fine tuners wouldn't work with my idea, duh. Embarassed


Last edited by Westbone on Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:42 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by corsair on Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:31 pm

Brilliant, Steve; I'm impressed!! I've gotta agree that Mass = sustain; my Electra had a massive block which I couldn't use as it was part of the bridge casting and the front edge of the strat-style bridge was munted but by all accounts, Electras with this bridge sustain for England!!

That's a very elegant piece of work; well done!!

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Dragondreams on Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:42 pm

Beautiful piece of work! Cool

And thank you for sharing the pics and the process. Smile

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Lunatech78 on Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:49 pm

WOW, very nice work Steve!!! Great detail in the pix...

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Steve777 on Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:28 am

Why, thanks guys for the positive comments!

At present, I'm just pondering whether to make a tremsetter in brass that has permanent contact with the sustain block when at rest. Sort of closing the loop. Hummmm !

And no Barry, I don't plan to go into production although I would get them made if there was enough demand. Still, nice thought.

I might have look at the earlier BM on my Dim IV. I've never been partial to the the trem arm attachment on this Trem . I much prefer an arm with a collar on.

Have good weekend

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Westbone on Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:57 pm

I'd certainly be interested in a brass block.
My earlier comment on stringing like a strat block. This would work on the Precision trem tailpiece, as per the Prestige 117, 227 trems and various other models. If this is possible I'd be very interested.
Here's a pic of the trem I'm referring to.

http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/609/p9041260.jpg
http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/7155/p9041259.jpg



I'll measure it up to a bendmaster deluxe, although it does look pretty similar.


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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by Racing on Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:29 pm

Steve.
I´m just gonna chime in with the others.
Good job!

That there feeds my distorted mind to the next step...
Why doesn´t one laser or watercut tremplates out of toolroom grade steel to be done with wear of the knives et al once and for all?
Likewise,the fulcrum bolts that go into the body...why does these HAVE to be made from el-cheapo grade materials that is just nickle plated?
What about grade 12.9 or NAS/AN stuff?
I mean..we´re talking two friggin bolts here..(thinkin- cost)

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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

Post by corsair on Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:39 am

Racing wrote:.... to be done with wear of the knives et al once and for all?
Likewise,the fulcrum bolts that go into the body...why does these HAVE to be made from el-cheapo grade materials that is just nickle plated?

The knife edges on all of my Bendmasters are fine; still as good as gold and the fulcrum bolts seem a reasonable grade of steel as well; I only did a spark test but they were better than I'd thought they'd be!! I mean, I know there's a cost factor here in manufacture but I don't think TP would have sanctioned shoddy steel in his bridge design....


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Re: Bendmaster BIG block

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